How Yoga and Meditation Changed My Life
By Lisa Marchant - Featured on Thrive Global
Why is the food we eat so important? Because it is an essential component of reaching optimal levels of health, well-being, performance, and even higher states of consciousness. It is a well-known fact, that what we eat impacts all aspects of our health, and fitness, but it also affects our mental and emotional states, as well as energy levels. Food is quite literally energy. Healthy foods, preserved in their natural state, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and superfoods contain the highest source of energy. And, as we know, processed, fried foods, sugar, soda and all those packaged “junk foods” contain the lowest source of energy. As we become more aware of our divine nature, we will desire to live in physical bodies that match our conscious state of being, we will raise our standards and what we consume will naturally evolve, replacing toxic foods with life-sustaining foods, and toxic habits with practices for well-being.
The transition starts with the simple act of awareness. You’ll notice how small changes lead to profound results. It may be hard to believe that simply changing what you eat can fundamentally change the way you feel and how you show up in the world, but it most certainly does, and you will experience it for yourself. For those of you who have already experienced this, you can testify that the physical, emotional and mental changes are truly astonishing. The amazing way you feel, your heightened state of consciousness, and the energetic level at which you operate, will inspire you to stay on course. You will begin to understand food for what it actually is, a source of life-sustaining energy. You will notice the effects of healthy eating on a deep cellular level, as you experience increased energy, greater mental capacity, higher emotional states, deeper inspiration, peace and calm, and improved health and vitality. You will quite literally understand the meaning of the statement "you are what you eat". In my experience, one of the best side effects is a euphoric sense of lightness. When you remove all the junk and toxins from your system, there is nothing left to weigh you down or zap your energy. You feel radiant, alive, and your cells are vibrating at a higher frequency. This defines how food is directly related to your physical, spiritual, and emotional body. When this is your relationship with food, and you understand it’s grand effect, you will want to make choices that sustain your physical and emotional wellbeing.
I grew up with 5 siblings. We were always active and outdoors. We didn’t even own a television. My family was vegetarian, and I would make homemade bread with my mom every Sunday. We had a vegetable garden and fruit trees. We took family walks after dinner almost every night. From early childhood, I was taught the importance of staying active and valuing fresh air, nature, sunshine and the great outdoors. Whether it was riding dirt bikes, climbing trees, hiking, swimming or a game of tag-n-go-seek, you could always find me outside. In high school, I started running and would run up to 3 miles a day after school. I loved it because of the way it made me feel. I felt alive and free. It was my time. It cleared my head. It made me happier, more confident, and more at ease. Running was also my way of dealing with challenging times. Whether it was friendships lost, heartache or disappointment, it was the one thing I always turned to. Running had a way of bringing me back to myself and anchoring me in the present moment, where I always came to the conclusion that everything would be ok.
My twenties were a time of intense learning, exploration, and self-discovery. I was searching for my identity and my purpose in the world. I was trying to establish what I believed, what was most important to me, and what I wanted out of life. Without truly knowing ourselves, we cannot obtain happiness no matter what we acquire or accomplish. I bought stacks of books, sought insight from those who were older and wiser and desperately wanted to understand life and why I was here. It became my obsession, to figure it all out because I thought that if I figured it all out, I could finally have it all. I could be happy and successful and live the life I had dreamed of as a child. If only I could reach back through time and have a conversation with my younger self, and gently explain that we will never have it all figured out and that not knowing everything is part of what makes life beautiful. Otherwise, there would be no surprise, no mystery, and no joy from experiencing the unknown.
Life is a constant evolution, and with each stage, our beliefs change, as well as what we think is important. What I wanted was a life with deep purpose and meaning. This is what became most important. This evolution was often moments of overwhelm and confusion, followed by breakthrough moments of joy and profound clarity. Being a free spirit, and very independent even as a child, I was now revisiting my past and the beliefs I was taught at home and by society. My parents were determined to instill strong values and to teach me to live with integrity. For that, I am eternally grateful. But the thing I wanted clarity on now, was where I stood now. What were my fundamental truth and beliefs? Who was I now? What was life all about? I was fit and healthy, had a great job, a great lifestyle and loving friends, but something was missing.
Years passed but I remained dedicated to my journey. Through intense growth and self-discovery, I had come to a place where I thought I knew myself pretty well. I knew what I wanted and what was important to me. I had discovered my personal values, along with what brought me the deepest joy and happiness. My foundation was solid. Or so I thought. There was so much to process and just as I worked through one thing, I would transition again. This is how I got to know myself, and how I moved from girl to woman. This is how I discovered my priorities, dreams, and aspirations. I was finally in a really great place. And then, just like that, I experienced one of the most difficult times in my life. Monumental changes took place in both my personal and professional life and almost instantly, my world changed. I went from feeling solid, happy and grounded, to feeling sad and lost. These events directly impacted my physical and emotional well-being and left me questioning everything once more. I had come so far and had gained so much knowledge and insight, but in an instant, my reality changed and it seemed I was back to square one. This hit me hard. I was in shock and somehow surprised by how leveling this experience was. It was very humbling for someone who thought they were rock solid, to discover that I didn’t have the tools to navigate this. This is when I came to the realization that no matter how much we grow and learn, or how much we think we know, we will never be done learning and evolving. There is no point of “arrival” and no time at which you can get too comfortable because that is when the rug will get pulled out from under you and you won’t be ready. Life is a continual process of ebb and flow, this is the only thing that is certain. If we are not fully present and aware, we can find ourselves in situations that leave us completely dumbfounded.
Pain can be crippling but it can also be profoundly transformational. It can take us to revelations in our journey that nothing else could. It forces us to re-examine every part of ourselves while withstanding gut-wrenching emotions. This is where you discover parts of yourself that you never even knew existed. You feel shock, confusion and a crumbling of all you thought to be true. You question absolutely everything, including your sanity. It can bring you to your knees but it can also summon strength that you never knew you had, and present lessons that you will carry with you for a lifetime. It’s like the saying “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. In the months to follow, I held on to anything that gave me hope and strength. I searched for guidance and clarity. Beneath the pain, I knew there was a warrior that would rise to fight for me.
One of my colleagues was a yoga teacher who taught at a nearby studio. On several occasions, she had invited me to join her class, raving about how much I would love it. At first, I was reluctant because I had this idea that yoga was for wimps. I pictured it being a lot of stretching and basically a total bore. Still, eventually she convinced me and I gave in. I remember that first class like it was yesterday. I remember that it kicked my ass. And, I remember the dark emotional state that I was in. Even so, the results were immediate. I was able to escape the worry and chaos of my mind and feel total peace. How was that possible?
That yoga studio became my home away from home. The community became my family. It was a place of love, warmth, and kindness. I felt accepted, safe and understood. We shared a deep love and connection, and it was for certain one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. It was here that I learned to re-open my heart and connect with the world around me. More importantly, I learned how to truly connect with myself and experience self-love. You could even say that the practice of yoga and meditation saved me, during a time when I could have easily been lost. This is where I learned the art of connecting movement with breath and was able to feel true connection with mind, body, and soul. It was a profound realization, in which I experienced the love and presence of a higher power. It was like a warm blanket of love, light, and protection. Tears fell like water. I had never experienced this before. Words can never fully describe the depth and joy of what I felt. In the midst of pain and turmoil I was able to fully trust, let go and even find joy. The beautiful thing about trusting and letting go, is that you feel immediate freedom and release. When you let go of control and surrender to that which is meant to be, you no longer need to worry. And once you are able to surrender, the universe shows up with everything you need, and it’s always something entirely better than what you released. This was not the end, this was just the beginning.
My practice elevated me to a place where everything was beautiful and bright, and all was well in the world, even if it wasn’t. I felt like a different person, who once again, had evolved into the next version of myself. I had new and improved perspective. This was the path to total wellbeing. This is what I had been missing and I didn’t even know it! I was thrilled and beyond grateful that I had found this practice. Grateful to have this incredibly beautiful tool in which to move deeper into my experience and discover all the hidden possibilities within me. I now had the opportunity to create a brand new life. I could start fresh. I couldn’t change the past, but I could create my future. I felt complete freedom. I was flying. My happiness had returned, and I was hopeful and deeply inspired. My transformation was so beautiful and intoxicating that I could not contain it. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. I wanted to share it with others, so I could help and empower them. I wanted to spread the word, that there is always hope and there is always a way through, even in the darkest of times. When you have journeyed through deep pain and you sense that you are coming out the other side, there is an indescribable joy. You have a newfound love and honor for yourself and for your ability to withstand and conquer anything. You realize that you always had the wisdom, strength, and courage to survive.
Health and exercise have always been an integral part of my life, but yoga and meditation presented a whole new path to heal, evolve and transform. The practice took me beyond my current circumstances, beyond what I could see, and connected me to something greater. It put me in touch with the part of myself that could experience through feelings and intuition. For the first time, I felt connected to a higher power. It was pure love flowing to me and through me. This practice enabled me to navigate a very difficult time in my life, with serenity and grace. And, it was through continued practice, that I became aware of my true purpose and how I could make a difference in the world. I developed deep love and respect for myself and for all living things. My life took on deep meaning. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. This was a gift. I was happier than I had been in years, maybe happier than I had ever been. I was ready for whatever came next, and I expected good things. My heart was wide open and my soul was on fire.
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